Alice Hoagland, mother of gay 9/11 hero and LGBT-inclusive rugby’s ‘biggest supporter’, dies aged 71
Alice Hoagland, the mother of gay 9/11 hero Mark Bingham and inclusive rugby champion, has died aged 71 after a long battle with Addison’s disease.
Hoagland died on 22 December at her home in Los Gatos, California, AP News reported. She was remembered by International Gay Rugby as “its biggest supporter and the surrogate mother for many rugby players who found a way forward through their involvement with rugby through their involvement with rugby and the Bingham Cup.”
She became involved with rugby after the death of her son, Mark Bingham.
Bingham was aboard the United Flight 93 that was commandeered by terrorists on 11 September, 2001. He was one of the passengers who fought the hijackers, causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania rather than its target, believed to be the US Capitol.
While on the flight, he called his mother. She recalled: “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through. As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.”
Bingham was a keen rugby player, having been introduced to the sport at high school, and played for the University of California. He went on to play for gay rugby team San Francisco Fog and was instrumental in setting up another inclusive team, New York’s Gotham Knights.
After her son’s death, Hoagland devoted her life to campaigning for airline safety, LGBT+ rights, and to continuing his legacy on gay rugby.
International Gay Rugby (IGR), an organisation who support LGBT+ rugby players globally, created the biennial Bingham Cup in Bingham’s honour. The tournament consists of 90 teams in over 20 countries, and held Hoagland so highly it named one of the awards for her.
Longtime family friend Amanda Mark said of Hoagland: “Through the Bingham Cup, she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT+ folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.”
Alive Hoagland remembered as a ‘sensational, loving and accepting mother to all’.
As well as her tireless support for inclusive rugby, Alice Hoagland also campaigned for airline security and for the families of 9/11 victims to be allowed to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it was involved in the attacks.
She said that the families were not suing for “any kind of financial gain” but to find the truth and bring “the truly guilty” to justice.
Tributes have flooded in on social media, with many members of the IGR saying she was like a “mother”.
One wrote: “Alice – you, as your son, impacted me more profoundly than you could know. Forever, with you.”
Another wrote: “Such devastating news to all who were lucky enough to have known and loved Alice. What a sensational, loving, accepting and supportive ‘mother’ that she was to us all.”